2020 Annual Report

An important objective of the Centre is to provide a high-quality postgraduate training environment for the next generation of researchers.

Robotic Vision Summer School

As an ARC Centre of Excellence, an important objective of the Centre is to provide a high-quality postgraduate training environment for the next generation of researchers.  As an adjunct to the ongoing day to day training provided to the Centre’s HDR cohort, an early initiative of the Centre was to establish an annual Robotic Vision Summer School.

The Summer School provides the opportunity for graduate students to learn about fundamental and advanced topics in computer vision algorithms on actual robotic hardware. Over the 6 years it has been running, 400 students have attended from Australia, the United Kingdom, the USA, Portugal, Israel, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Finland, Japan and Chile.  More recently we have seen participation from industry and undergraduates.

In 2020 the Summer School moved locations after a challenging start to the year.  Bushfires, severe smoke pollution, hail storms and the early effects of COVID-19 all resulted in a decision to move the Summer School from the much loved, Australian National University (ANU) Kioloa Campus, to ANU’s Canberra Campus.

Held in the first week of February 2020, the Summer School hosted students for a week of intensive tutorials and workshops.  Over the course of the week, students applied what they learnt in the tutorials to solve the workshop challenge of FIND THE ANIMALS!  Several pint-sized animals had escaped Canberra zoo and were running amok in the Aruco forest.  The teams had to use their PiBots to track them down and collaborate with the other groups to fully explore the forest.  The competition was chaotic in the best of ways, with some bots themselves getting lost among the trees.

The Summer School tutorials received very positive feedback, with the curriculum receiving a refresh ahead of the 2020 event.  Tutorial material was updated and students engaged with this material via interactive JuPyter notebooks which made the concepts tangible.

Students also enjoyed deep dive talks that took them from the fundamentals of a topic to advanced concepts and exciting applications. The program also included a fantastic spotlight talk on computational imaging, and a number of short technical talks from three Centre Postdoctoral Fellows who provided students with a summary of their own research.  Finally, the audience heard from a member of Lockheed Martin, one of the summer school’s sponsors, about life as a researcher within industry developing solutions to a range of real-world problems.

The Robotic Vision Summer School will continue on beyond the life of the Centre under the auspices of Robotic Vision Australia.  You can find out more about RVSS at https://www.rvss.org.au

Robot Academy

When Centre Director, Distinguished Professor Peter Corke had a bike accident in 2012 and was unable to teach his third year Robotics classes in person, he decided to narrate his lessons and uploaded them to YouTube so that a colleague could deliver them.  After noticing that those YouTube videos had gained a significant following, Peter was motivated to create what is now the QUT Robot Academy.

Robot Academy launched in May 2017 and is essentially a semester worth of university-level robotics content delivered via 200+ (free) 8 minute videos. In just 3 ½ year the lessons have been viewed over 1.5 Million times, which averages out to about one lesson a minute being viewed.

You can find out more at https://robotacademy.net.au

Photo credit: Xavier Montaner, Corporate Photography Brisbane

Math Thrills

Centre Chief Investigator Professor Michael Milford created the Math Thrills program in order to engage and excite children, teenagers and young adults about mathematics.  The Math Thrills content has been designed to be fun and easy to use and is linked to school curriculum.  It engages different types of learners through multiple learning modalities including picture books, illustrated guides, young adult fiction, online animations, blockbuster entertainment and workshops.  The resources and program are offered free to schools around Australia.

You can find out more at https://maththrills.com